Navigation Links
Researchers design trees that make it easier to produce paper
Date:4/3/2014

Researchers have genetically engineered trees that will be easier to break down to produce paper and biofuel, a breakthrough that will mean using fewer chemicals, less energy and creating fewer environmental pollutants.

"One of the largest impediments for the pulp and paper industry as well as the emerging biofuel industry is a polymer found in wood known as lignin," says Shawn Mansfield, a professor of Wood Science at the University of British Columbia.

Lignin makes up a substantial portion of the cell wall of most plants and is a processing impediment for pulp, paper and biofuel. Currently the lignin must be removed, a process that requires significant chemicals and energy and causes undesirable waste.

Researchers used genetic engineering to modify the lignin to make it easier to break down without adversely affecting the tree's strength.

"We're designing trees to be processed with less energy and fewer chemicals, and ultimately recovering more wood carbohydrate than is currently possible," says Mansfield.

Researchers had previously tried to tackle this problem by reducing the quantity of lignin in trees by suppressing genes, which often resulted in trees that are stunted in growth or were susceptible to wind, snow, pests and pathogens.

"It is truly a unique achievement to design trees for deconstruction while maintaining their growth potential and strength."

The study, a collaboration between researchers at the University of British Columbia, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Michigan State University, is a collaboration funded by Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, was published today in Science.

BACKGROUND

Lignin

The structure of lignin naturally contains ether bonds that are difficult to degrade. Researchers used genetic engineering to introduce ester bonds into the lignin backbone that are easier to break down chemically.

The new technique means that the lignin may be recovered more effectively and used in other applications, such as adhesives, insolation, carbon fibres and paint additives.

Genetic modification

The genetic modification strategy employed in this study could also be used on other plants like grasses to be used as a new kind of fuel to replace petroleum.

Genetic modification can be a contentious issue, but there are ways to ensure that the genes do not spread to the forest. These techniques include growing crops away from native stands so cross-pollination isn't possible; introducing genes to make both the male and female trees or plants sterile; and harvesting trees before they reach reproductive maturity.

In the future, genetically modified trees could be planted like an agricultural crop, not in our native forests. Poplar is a potential energy crop for the biofuel industry because the tree grows quickly and on marginal farmland. Lignin makes up 20 to 25 per cent of the tree.

"We're a petroleum reliant society," says Mansfield. "We rely on the same resource for everything from smartphones to gasoline. We need to diversify and take the pressure off of fossil fuels. Trees and plants have enormous potential to contribute carbon to our society."


'/>"/>
Contact: Heather Amos
heather.amos@ubc.ca
604-822-3213
University of British Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Study by UC Santa Barbara researchers suggests that bacteria communicate by touch
2. UC Santa Barbara researchers discover genetic link between visual pathways of hydras and humans
3. Researchers attempt to solve problems of antibiotic resistance and bee deaths in one
4. UNH researchers find African farmers need better climate change data to improve farming practices
5. Ottawa researchers to lead world-first clinical trial of stem cell therapy for septic shock
6. Researchers uncover molecular pathway through which common yeast becomes fungal pathogen
7. Researchers print live cells with a standard inkjet printer
8. Columbia Engineering and Penn researchers increase speed of single-molecule measurements
9. Researchers reveal how a single gene mutation leads to uncontrolled obesity
10. Researchers discover novel therapy for Crohns disease
11. New paper by Notre Dame researchers describes method for cleaning up nuclear waste
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:12/6/2016)... N.C. , Dec. 6, 2016 Valencell ... announced today it has seen a third consecutive year ... biometric sensor technology in 2016 with a 360 percent ... last year. This increase was driven by sales of ... as robust interest in its technology for hearables for ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... 30, 2016 Not many of us realize that we spend ? of ... we need to do it well. Inadequate sleep levels have been found to lead ... diabetes, and even cancer. Maybe now is the best time to rethink ... them to manage their sleep quality? Continue Reading ... ...
(Date:11/28/2016)... "The biometric system market ... The biometric system market is in the growth stage ... future. The biometric system market is expected to be ... CAGR of 16.79% between 2016 and 2022. Government initiative ... in smartphones, rising use of biometric technology in financial ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/6/2016)... ... December 06, 2016 , ... ... Partners ("GPP") portfolio company, today announced it has acquired the assets of ... of Chiltern International and focuses on clinical trial drug packaging, labeling, storage, ...
(Date:12/6/2016)... MENLO PARK, Calif. , Dec. 6, 2016 ... of up to $150 million from the National ... Infectious Diseases and the Division of AIDS (NIAID-DAIDS) ... microbicides and other non-vaccine pre-exposure (PreP) agents. Under ... suite of preclinical product development services for candidate ...
(Date:12/5/2016)... 5, 2016 Axovant Sciences Ltd. (NYSE: ... on the treatment of dementia, today announced that data ... of Alzheimer,s disease will be presented at the 2016 ... December 9, 2016 in San Diego ... both simple and complex measures of activities of daily ...
(Date:12/5/2016)... ... December 05, 2016 , ... ... soon resume cervical and lumbar disc production, company President, Jake Lubinski will be ... are implanting the AxioMed disc in Cologne and Karlsruhe to discuss the benefits ...
Breaking Biology Technology: